Ulli Beier; a Beacon in the Post- Colonial Renascence of Adire.

Margaret Olugbemisola Areo

Abstract


    Oshogbo in Southwestern Nigeria was renowned for the Yoruba, patterned, indigo – dyed cloth; Adire. Traditionally called “ilu Aro”, home of indigo and indigo dyeing, the dyers in the town were patronized from far and near for their dyeing prowess. This art tradition however suffered a lull in the twilight of Nigerian Colonialism in the 1950s, due to lack of willing young apprentices to learn this generational art which traditionally, was passed from mothers to daughters, as the young girls now preferred Western education in an Eurocentric setting. Another challenge was the flooding of Nigerian markets with cheaper, imported textiles, which were not taxed, while the locally produced ones were. Hand in hand with these twin problems is the mindset of many educated Nigerians, who  then saw the Adire merely as rural cloth for poor, illiterate, rural dwellers.

This trend however changed in the Post – Independence years of the 1960s, with the concerted efforts of certain individuals, among whom Ulli Beier shone as a beacon. Through a paradigm shift in apprentice education and tranning in this indigenous knowledge, his efforts not only brought a rebirth of the Adire  art, but also resulted in a dynamic new form of the art, which has become an inseparable part of the socio – cultural, visual  landscape of Osogbo, and  many other Adire art centres in Southwestern Nigeria

The paper, an art historical research based on field work, consultation of literature materials and interviews of artists,  highlights the methods of training employed and bring to the fore  how  a paradigm shift in pedagogy, technic and technology can enhance the sustainability of many indigenous knowledge  in a fast changing world.                                                                       


Keywords


Ulli Beier; Adire; Renascence; Post-Colonial; Oshogbo

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/journal.v2i9.197

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